An Easy Way to Give to the St. Mary’s Food Pantry

February 1st, 2016

You can donate your returnable to any Rooper’s location to benefit the St. Mary’s Food Pantry! Just drop off your cans and bottles and ask them to credit the St. Mary’s Food Pantry account. Then, Rooper’s will tally it up and periodically send the Pantry a check. Did you know that the Pantry can often buy food for 16 cents per pound, or even as little as 8 cents per pound for fruits and veggie through Good Shepherd Food Bank. We can make a little go a long way – every little bit counts!
Here are the Rooper’s locations in Lewiston/Auburn:

Thank you for your support!

St. Mary’s Designated a Fit-Friendly Workplace

February 1st, 2016

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center was recognized as a Gold Level Recipient of the American Heart Association’s Fit-Friendly Worksites Recognition program.

The Fit-Friendly Worksites program is a catalyst for positive change. Worksites throughout the nation can be part of the initiative by making the health and wellness of their employees a priority. St. Mary’s was recognized as a Gold Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life. initiative for:
• Offering employees physical activity support.
• Providing/increasing healthy eating options at the worksite.
• Promoting a wellness culture.
• Implementing at least nine criteria as outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture.

“We are extremely honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life. initiative as a Gold Level Fit-Friendly Worksite,” said Christopher A. Chekouras, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Health System. “Physical activity and employee wellness are very important priorities here at St. Mary’s and we encourage all of our employees to be more physically fit by participating in our HealthSteps Program, Healthy Mission Coalition activities, the Commit to Get Fit Challenge, among other initiatives.”

Congratulations to all St. Mary’s employees who are making the effort to be fit and their colleagues who are helping them to achieve that goal.


Surviving the Holidays

December 22nd, 2015

What’s not to love about viewing the twinkling Christmas lights, caroling, smelling Christmas cookies baking, building a gingerbread house, and witnessing the look of pure glee when our children see what Santa has brought them? For many, the holidays are a time of stress, hassles, aggravation, and even loneliness and isolation. How can we move in the direction of “Peace of Earth” and “Goodwill towards all”?

Here are my top ten tips for reducing holiday stress:

1. Identify your holiday stressors: What holiday events or situations trigger feelings of stress? Is your holiday stress caused by internal or external factors? External examples might include office parties, crowded stores, family dinners, or traveling. Internal examples could include high self-expectations, self-induced pressure to entertain, or high standards for decorating your home, making the “perfect” meal, or hosting the “perfect” party. If you can recognize your common triggers, you can disarm them before they lead to a meltdown.
2. Recognize how you deal with stress. What behaviors do you use to cope with stress (overeating, smoking, etc.)? Is this a crutch you use year round or specifically during the holidays? You can learn to deal with your stress in practical ways. How about practicing deep breathing, exercising, or writing in a journal?
3. Change one unhealthy habit at a time. For example, if time management is an issue, learn to plan ahead. We all know that the holidays tend to require a great deal of time, why not prepare? Do as much as you can ahead of time. 4. Learn to delegate. Does it really matter who

4. Learn to delegate. Does it really matter who does a task as long as it gets done? We all like to think our way is the right way, but let’s face it, there are only 24-hours in a day and we can’t always do it all ourselves. How about sharing the responsibilities? I know my husband won’t wrap the gifts to my liking, but he could help tidy the house. 5. Set a budget and stick to it! With all the marketing ploys in play during the

5. Set a budget and stick to it! With all the marketing ploys in play during the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. When the credit card bills follow in January, you may be hard pressed to find
that same holiday cheer.
6. Simplify things. If you’re cooking a holiday meal, how about if you prepare the turkey and let all your guests shine by bringing their own specialty dishes? Consider re-thinking your holiday traditions. Are there certain one’s you no longer enjoy? If so, cross them off your list. Getting in the holiday spirit doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as easy as turning on some nostalgic Christmas music or making your
favorite wintertime drink like hot mulled cider.
7. Prioritize. Whether it’s the invitations you plan to accept or your to-do list, prioritizing to figure out what’s truly important to you can help reduce your stress levels. If you don’t feel right saying no to a party, could you make a brief appearance instead?8. Laugh! Stay in touch with your true emotions. If you’re not feeling festive,

8. Laugh! Stay in touch with your true emotions. If you’re not feeling festive, especially if you’ve lost a loved one or have had a family change such as divorce, let yourself grieve the loss. Keep old traditions alive, but be open to new ones too.
9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthy, and rest! While your holiday to-do list may be lengthy, don’t let it cut from your needed sleep time. Not only is sleep important for our overall health, it’s also important for your own enjoyment (as well as those around you). How are you going to take pleasure in that holiday party you worked so hard preparing for if you’re lacking energy? Take downtime to relax, even if it’s only for a short while.
10. Get Real! Set realistic expectations. When we dream of the holidays, we tend to romanticize our memories making them impossible to re-create. Spills, squabbles, and other blunders are an inevitable part of the holiday season.


Most of all, remember to just have fun and take heart in knowing the holidays only happen once a year!


jen smith croppedJennifer Smith holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, a bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine with a concentration in nutrition and a minor in education, and is a nationally certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, speed coach, and tobacco cessation helper.

Tips to Survive the Holidays without the Weight Gain – Winter 2016

December 22nd, 2015

This time of year can be especially hard to maintain a healthy diet, but with a little due-diligence, it can be done! First and foremost, it’s important to establish a foundation of moderation –not deprivation. Spend your calories wisely. Don’t completely cut out your favorite high-fat, high-sugar traditional holiday foods. Instead, be selective and opt for smaller portions of those foods you really enjoy. Eat slowly, savoring every bite. After filling your plate with healthier options, sample those items that have piqued your curiosity. Although, if you don’t like it, don’t eat it. Eating an additional 250 calories per day over 10 weeks will promote a 5-pound weight gain! So, when deciding to munch on chocolates at work, skip the extra helping at dinner.

When shopping, pre-plan several quick,  healthy snacks and have them readily available, forgoing the food court at the mall and fast food restaurants. If this sounds like too much of a hassle, you can still plan
ahead. How about a veggie sub on whole grain bread from one of the sandwich shops with a water?

Learn to say, “No, thank you” –firmly, but politely, of course. If Aunt Fran is pestering you and Granny keeps putting foods in front of you that she lovingly baked, try saying something like, “No. Thank you. Everything was delicious, but I can’t eat another bite.”

Don’t skip breakfast. Start your day with a whole-grain, high-fiber or high-protein breakfast. It will jumpstart your metabolism and help maintain your satiety, so you will consume fewer calories during the
rest of the day. My favorite is a veggie omelet.

Never go to a party hungry. Don’t save up or bank calories because you are going to a holiday social later that day. Instead, eat smaller, lighter meals and snacks consistently. You might opt for
a salad, light soup, or fruit before leaving home.

Use a small plate when going to a holiday social event. This will help you limit how much you put on it. If you are sampling foods, check out the entire buffet table before filling your plate. This way you can
make sensible choices. Keep the half your plate should be covered with veggies and fruits rule in mind and try to select only those favorite special foods leaving standard fare like chips and pretzels behind.

Avoid temptation. Stand as far away from the buffet table as possible, so you’re not tempted to constantly nibble. Focus on socializing instead. Catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen lately. If your break room at work is filled with holiday goodies, plan an alternate route or to frequent it less often.

Offer to bring a delicious, healthy, low-calorie dish to holiday parties, so you know there’s at least one nutritious item for you to eat. Plates of raw veggies and whole-grain pretzel sticks to dip in hummus or
fruit with yogurt dip are great snacks.

Watch your beverages. Alcohol is more calorie dense than both carbohydrates and protein. You get 7-cal for every gram consumed –almost as much as fat. So go light on the alcoholic drinks, which tend to be popular at holiday events—maybe have a glass of sparkling water, hot-mulled cider, or some other non-alcoholic beverage in between that glass of wine or cup of eggnog. Calories from beverages can
contribute up to 25% or more of your daily energy needs. How about opting for “mocktails” with 100% juice and seltzer water and diluting your eggnog with skim milk?

Change your ingredients. Choose lower-fat and lower-sugar recipes for dishes this year. Opt for low-fat or skim milk in recipes that call for heavy cream. Choose low-fat cheese or fat-free dairy alternatives, and a heart-healthy spread to use in baking, on vegetables, and in mashed potatoes, rather than butter.

Increase your fruit & vegetable intake. How about aiming for 5 or more a day? Fruits and veggies are nutrient dense and rich in fiber, vitamins, & minerals, so they fill you up and curb cravings for other, not so healthy foods.

Keep a food diary. Keeping track of what you are eating is a good way to recognize what your food habits are and curb how much you eat. 

Last but not least, EXERCISE! Exercise is more essential than ever this time of year. Not only does it burn calories but also it decreases stress, which for many can lead to overeating. So, keep moving. Try a nice long walk after a meal to check out the holiday lights and decorations in the neighborhood.

Remember, taking care of yourself is one of the best gifts you can give you & your
family this season! 

jen smith croppedJennifer Smith holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, a bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine with a concentration in nutrition and a minor in education, and is a nationally certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, speed coach, and tobacco cessation helper.

MaineHealth to Partner with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to Enhance Quality Cancer Care in Northern New England

December 16th, 2015


Maine’s largest healthcare provider is teaming with one of the nation’s foremost cancer specialty institutes, giving the people of southern Maine and Carroll County, N.H., improved access to the best possible cancer care.

MaineHealth has formed a partnership with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston, by which cancer patients at the 11 MaineHealth member and affiliated hospitals will have streamlined access to Dana-Farber for complex specialty care and clinical trials.

Dana-Farber will provide consultation, training, and other services to physicians and their teams throughout the MaineHealth system.

MaineHealth and Dana-Farber will also work together to expand or develop a wide range of survivorship, second-opinion, education, and personalized medicine initiatives offered by MaineHealth.

The agreement creates a full continuum of cancer care to be offered through MaineHealth, starting with many treatments that can be provided close to home at local hospitals, including St. Mary’s. More complex cases can be addressed at Maine Medical Center, the state’s largest tertiary care hospital. And finally, for the most complex and challenging cases, Dana Farber’s resources can be leveraged to provide the most advanced treatments and clinical trials.

“We seek high-quality partners in cancer care to enable patients to stay close to home as much as possible, either for all of their care or after the most intensive, complex treatments,” said Bill Caron, president of MaineHealth.  “This partnership brings together Dana-Farber’s world-renowned cancer expertise and MaineHealth’s comprehensive health system to create an unprecedented range of options for cancer patients throughout the region.”

“As a MaineHealth affiliate St. Mary’s and our patients we will reap the benefits of this partnership through improved access, streamlined care, enhanced communication,  and access to clinician expertise,” said Christopher A. Chekouras, President and CEO of St. Mary’s. “This partnership is a definite “win” for our patients and our community.”

“We are excited for formalize the strong relationship we already have with MaineHealth,” said Edward J. Benz, Jr., M.D., president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, “and we look forward to working together more closely to ease the burden of cancer in northern New England.”

About MaineHealth

MaineHealth is a not-for-profit family of leading high-quality providers and other healthcare organizations working together so their communities are the healthiest in America. Ranked among the nation’s top 100 integrated healthcare delivery networks, MaineHealth member organizations include Maine Medical Center, Franklin Community Health Network, Lincoln County Healthcare, Maine Behavioral Healthcare, Memorial Hospital, Pen Bay Healthcare, Southern Maine Health Care, Waldo County Healthcare, Western Maine Health, HomeHealth Visiting Nurses, NorDx and Synernet. Affiliates of MaineHealth include MaineGeneral Health, Mid Coast-Parkview Health, New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland and St. Mary’s Health System.

About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

From achieving the first remissions in childhood cancer with chemotherapy in 1948, to developing the very latest new therapies, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is one of the world’s leading centers of cancer research and treatment.  It is the only center ranked in the top 4 of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals for both adult and pediatric cancer care.

Dana-Farber sits at the center of a wide range of collaborative efforts to reduce the burden of cancer through scientific inquiry, clinical care, education, community engagement, and advocacy.  Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center provides the latest in cancer care for adults; Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center for children. The Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center unites the cancer research efforts of five Harvard academic medical centers and two graduate schools, while Dana-Farber Community Cancer Care provides high quality cancer treatment in communities outside Boston’s Longwood Medical Area.

Dana-Farber is dedicated to a unique, 50/50 balance between cancer research and care, and much of the Institute’s work is dedicated to translating the results of its discovery into new treatments for patients locally and around the world.

Help Us Pack the Bus for the Hungry

November 17th, 2015

Volunteers from St. Mary’s Food Pantry will be at Shaw’s in Lewiston and Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 AM to      3 PM, to collect non-perishable food items to PACK THE BUS!  They hope to fill an entire school bus as each location as part of their pre-Thanksgiving food drive.  Residents can stop in at the Shaw’s on East Ave. in Lewiston or Center St. in Auburn to help neighbors in need by making a food or monetary donation.

For the past few years, the Pantry has been focusing more on healthy foods and especially, healthy snacks and lunch items for kids.  Good donation choices include peanut butter, canned tuna and chicken, whole grain crackers and pasta, raisins and other dried fruits, and non-sugary cereals.  The Pantry is also looking for items to help fill Thanksgiving boxes – stuffing and gravy would be most helpful.  St. Mary’s Food Pantry regularly serves approximately 375 people per week, and expects to serve approximately 250 families during the 3 days before Thanksgiving.

In addition to members of the Food Pantry Advisory Committee and other long-time and new volunteers that help staff the event, Lewiston High School’s JROTC Cadets will help at each Shaw’s location, and Wolfpack Fitness members will help unload all the donated food at the end of the day.

The goal of St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, located in downtown Lewiston, is to promote community health through its food pantry, cooking and nutrition education, youth development, and urban gardening programs.  More information about the Center’s work can be found at


Cardiac Care at St. Mary’s

November 16th, 2015

Physicians from Maine Medical Partners – MaineHealth Cardiology who are on the active medical staff at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center moved onto the St. Mary’s campus to better serve our patients. As of today, James Parker, MD; Roy Ulin, MD; and Lynette Weeman, DO are seeing patients at this new location:

Maine Medical Partners – MaineHealth Cardiology

99 Campus Avenue, Suite 301


Additional subspecialists from the practice also will hold clinics at the new location to expand the range of cardiac care available in our community.

MaineHealth Cardiology is closely linked with the nationally recognized cardiac care at Maine Medical Center and its parent organization, MaineHealth. These physicians are Board certified cardiologists who are trained in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the heart and circulatory system.  Together, we are committed to improving the cardiovascular health of the community.

To complement this service, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center opened the new St. Mary’s Center for Cardiac Imaging today. This new department provides outpatient ancillary services such as stress tests, nuclear medicine, and cardiac ultrasound.  The Center for Cardiac Imaging is located on the 3rd floor of 99 Campus Avenue. The number is 755-3240.

Get Fit for Fall – What’s the Best Exercise for Me?

November 3rd, 2015

The best exercise is the one that you will do. Walking is considered one of the top choices because it’s simple, safe, and requires no equipment except for a good, supportive pair of sneakers.

Brisk walking is great for burning calories and for overall cardiovascular health. Plus, walking regularly can:

  • Decrease your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes
  • Decrease your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve your mental well-being
  • Decrease your risk of osteoporosis
  • Decrease your body fat

Best practice is to start slow, gradually increasing your time and pace over an extended period. As you become accustomed to walking more, your eventual goal should be to aim for 30 minutes a day and a total of 150 minutes a week; however, even if you’re only able to walk a short while, don’t get discouraged, as any amount of exercise is better than none!

Pictured Bob Poirier and Marc McPheters jogging next to Rick Dodge, Gert Chasse, Elaine Freeman, Normand Demers, and Grace Trainor as they all participate in HealthSteps' Walk-Jog class conveniently located at the beautiful indoor track at Bates College.

Pictured Bob Poirier and Marc McPheters jogging next to Rick Dodge, Gert Chasse, Elaine Freeman, Normand Demers, and Grace Trainor as they all participate in HealthSteps’ Walk-Jog class conveniently located at the beautiful indoor track at Bates College.

If you find the dark, cold weather deters your exercise regimen, HealthSteps offers a class called Walk Jog that takes place on Bates’ indoor track. You decide whether you want to start right off on your own or walk with the group. If the group is what you choose, a light warm up will take place followed by a walk. Once the time is up for walking, a small strengthening, cool down, and stretching session ends the class. In this 50 minute class, your 30 minutes of daily exercise is more than done!

Hear it from our very own dedicated walkers…

At 88 years old participating in HealthSteps was the best investment in my health that I could have ever made.” -Normand Demers

I have been jogging for over 30 years but would not do so outside in the winter months because of the weather. Treadmills were not an option. Fifteen years ago I was introduced to the HealthSteps program, which was a real God send since I can now use the Bates College 200m (1/8 mile) track. This track has a Mondo 8 surface, which is the same surface as used on modern day Olympic tracks and very easy on my aging joints.” –Richard Houle

In addition to Walk Jog classes, HealthSteps offers a wide range of other classes with the core membership fee. For more information or to register, call HealthSteps at 777-8898 or visit us on the web at: Preregistration for all programs is required. Call today and start your way to a new healthy lifestyle in which you will feel better, have more energy, meet great people, and enjoy exercise even more!


St. Mary’s Earned ‘Straight A’s’ for Patient Safety from Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score

October 29th, 2015

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine has been recognized for its dedication to patient safety by being awarded an A grade in the Fall 2015 Hospital Safety Score, which rates how well hospitals protect patients from preventable medical errors, injuries and infections within the hospital. St. Mary’s is also being recognized as a “Straight A’s” hospital for never receiving a grade lower than an A from the Hospital Safety Score since the Score first launched in June 2012—a tremendous achievement.


An “A” grade is one of the most meaningful honors a hospital can achieve, and one of the most valuable indicators for patients looking for a safe place to receive care. The Hospital Safety Score is the gold standard rating for patient safety, compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading patient safety experts and administered by The Leapfrog Group, a national, independent nonprofit. The first and only hospital safety rating to be peer-reviewed in the Journal of Patient Safety, the Hospital Safety Score is free to the public and designed to give consumers information they can use to protect themselves and their families when facing a hospital stay.

“Patient safety and providing excellent care are priorities for providers and staff at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center,” said Christopher Chekouras, President and CEO of the hospital. “Their continued dedication and hard work have elevated our safety scores leading to the best safety and quality experience for our patients.”

“St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center is one of only 133 hospitals in the country to have achieved Straight A’s from the Hospital Safety Score since 2012,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, which administers the Hospital Safety Score. “I commend you for your consistency in putting your patients first, and urge your continued vigilance in keeping your patients safe.”

Developed under the guidance of Leapfrog’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to produce a single A, B, C, D, or F score, representing a hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from preventable harm. More than 2,500 U.S. general hospitals were assigned scores in October 2015, with 773 hospitals receiving an A grade. The Hospital Safety Score is fully transparent, offering a full analysis of the data and methodology used in determining grades on the website. Now, for the first time, patients can also review their hospital’s past safety performance alongside its current grade on the Hospital Safety Score site, allowing them to determine which local hospitals have the best track record in patient safety and which have demonstrated consistent improvement.

To see St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center’s full score, and to access consumer-friendly tips for patients and loved ones visiting the hospital, visit or follow The Hospital Safety Score on Twitter or Facebook. Consumers can also download the free Hospital Safety Score mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

St. Mary’s Welcomes Christopher Chekouras

October 26th, 2015

c chekouras hs10-2015 croppedxIt is with great excitement that we announce the arrival of Christopher Chekouras, our new President and CEO.  We’ve been anticipating Chris’ arrival since July when he was chosen to lead St. Mary’s following a competitive CEO selection process.  Chris comes to us from southern New Jersey where he was the Senior Vice President of Post-Acute and Community-Based Services at Virtua, a comprehensive healthcare system with three hospitals.

Chris brings a wealth of experience, innovative ideas, and an abundance of energy to St. Mary’s. He has a history of achieving results through effective collaboration, transparent communication, and personal accountability.  The leadership team is looking forward to working with Chris as we strive to provide the highest quality of care with a mission-driven passion.  His values are aligned with St. Mary’s making him a good fit to move us into the future.

We welcome Chris and his wife, Jennifer, to the St. Mary’s community as well as the Lewiston/Auburn community that they now call home.